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Karadzic says 'witch hunt' has tainted trial

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Marlise Simons
New York Times News Service / August 2, 2008

THE HAGUE - In a rambling, argumentative letter published by the war crimes tribunal yesterday, Radovan Karadzic raised what he called "serious irregularities" about his treatment and said an international "media witch hunt" had jeopardized his chances for a fair trial.

The four-page signed statement, full of outbursts and accusations, goes into greater detail about the deal that the former Bosnian Serb leader contends was made with the United States in 1996 to help him evade justice.

He continues his bitter criticisms of the former American envoy, Richard C. Holbrooke, that he outlined during his first appearance before the international war crimes tribunal on Thursday, adding that Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state, also proposed that he drop out of sight by opening a private clinic somewhere abroad.

Albright proposed that "I get out of the way and go to Russia, Greece, or Serbia and open a private clinic or at least go to Bijeljina," he wrote in the letter.

Karadzic declined in his appearance before the tribunal to answer charges that he led Bosnia into an ethnic war that turned to genocide. Another hearing was scheduled for Aug. 29.

The indictment against him includes a catalog of crimes in a broad swath of places, but most crucial are the three-year siege of Sarajevo, which left more than 10,000 civilians dead, and the mass killings at Srebrenica, where nearly 8,000 unarmed men and boys were executed in a weeklong massacre in July 1995.

In the statement, published on the tribunal's website, Karadzic said he was kidnapped by civilians while riding a bus and was held captive for three days before being turned over July 21 to Serb authorities. He was not allowed to make telephone calls or send text messages during his confinement.

During the 75-minute hearing, Karadzic stayed mostly low-key with occasional twitches of anger and humor. He repeated old rumors that Holbrooke had brokered the deal with the United States to evade arrest.

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